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Million Monkeys

Mark Edwards

They say that if you were to sit a million monkeys down at a million keyboards for a million years, then by chance, one of them might randomly type out a Shakespearian play.

In reality, the chances of this happening even with a trillion monkeys typing for a trillion years is infinitesmally small.

Regardless of Shakespeare and Monkeys, it appears to be a much more common phenomenon that when you randomly type keys or buttons, then some of them combine to create meaningfull results.

For example, one day I was by myself at home when the television turned on by itself.

After scouting the house for a suspected burglar with a penchant for daytime TV, I decided that it might be possible that my wife, who is not much interested in learning how to use the TV remote advanced functions, had inadvertently activated wakeup mode and set a time which happened to be when I was at home. On questioning, she confessed that she had indeed been fiddling with the remote trying to get something to work. Mystery solved by the million monkeys theory.

Recently, I was having problems with my mobile phone. I could receive incoming calls but could not send outgoing calls. As I seldom make calls from my mobile (read almost never) I assumed this was related to a lack of network coverage at the point I was trying from, the odd time it ocurred. When the problem recurred again several days later, I realised that I did not seem to be able to make outgoing calls at all.

I was about to call Telstra regarding my service difficulties when I thought perhaps I should consult my manual. I had also noticed that the number 2 had appeared in the top left corner of my phone display. I had no idea what it meant and wondered if perhaps the two were related.

On reading the manual I found no help there at all.

I decided to search through the settings to see if there was anything that might influence this rogue digit.

After a few minutes I found that I had the option of setting which outgoing line I wanted to use to make calls. The choices were 1 and 2. My settings had been set to line 2. This explained the 2 in the top left corner of the screen. Why you would want the choice of a second outgoing line on a mobile phone puzzles me but anyway. Once I set it back to line 1 I tested the phone again and could make outgoing calls.

So how did this happen?

Sometimes I put the phone in my pocket without locking the keypad. Inadvertently, keys are pressed and sometimes those keystrokes will mean something to the phone such as set the outgoing line to line 2.

So the next time you are searching for a solution to why your hardware is playing up, just remember the million monkeys.

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